Posts tagged Election 2008

Re: The Mote That Is In Thy Brother’s Eye


Well, then it definitely sounds like electoral mission creep to me. “Well, we got in here to do A, but that failed, so let’s stay in here and do B instead.” Again, perhaps it’s time to cut your losses and find a better strategy, rather than just keeping in electoral politics because that’s where you started out?


I’m glad that Ron Paul and his boosters have gotten people excited about libertarian ideas. I wish that there had been more thought (especially by the boosters, since I take it that Ron Paul was busy doing other things) put into what to do with all these excited, activated people after the close of the campaign. I don’t think there has been much thought about that, and to the extent that there hasn’t been, that means that a lot of time and energy and tens of millions of dollars are going to go straight down the toilet, as the Paulitarians either burn out and wander away, what with the end of their groups’ raison d’etre, or else pitch themselves into the next “educational” failing electoral campaign, either as marginalized Republicans or as members of the LP. A project like “transforming the Republican Party” is more or less guaranteed to be a tar-baby for this putative “Revolution.”

I predict that, unless something quite unusual happens over the next couple of months, in the direction of redirecting former Paulitarians toward some other concrete project outside of electoral politics, then, four years from today, Ron Paul’s campaign will have made no more difference to the political consensus than Howard Dean’s in 2004, or Pat Buchanan’s in 1992.

Re: Gene Callahan Joins the Smearbund

Matt Polzkill:

Of course Spooner greatly respected the Constitution, that’s why he devoted a large chunk of his life to studying it & writing about it (his treatise on how chattel slavery is unconstitutional is genius). His MAIN problem with it is that no one follows it.

Lysander Spooner, No Treason No. 6: The Constitution of No Authority:

Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

That’s some kind of respect he’s got there.

Matt Polzkill:

He correctly explains that paper can’t magically create a just society & that the people calling themselves “the government” are in fact the greatest criminals because they ignore or subvert it.

That is certainly not Spooner’s explanation of why the people calling themselves “the government” are the greatest criminals.

His explanation of why they are the greatest criminals is that they impose binding political obligations on free and independent people without the latter’s genuine individual consent.

Matt Polzkill:

Yeah, and Jefferson had slaves and…my god, what a way to go about things!

Yeah, that was pretty shitty of Jefferson. He was also a hypocrite, a rapist, and President of the United States, all of which I think were pretty shitty of him. What’s your point?

Matt Polzkill:

I’m sure liberty will just drop in your laps someday, or maybe Jesus Christ will come down. Have a nice wait, if things improve, the rest of us will know who NOT to thank.

You seem to be presuming that trying to get somebody elected President of the United States is the only way to get “things [to] improve”. But it’s not the only way. It’s not the best way, either, or even a particularly plausible way. Or, at least, if you think that it is, that’s certainly not a self-evident truth that you can just presuppose. It’s a tendentious claim that you’ll have to justify with some kind of argument.

Re: The Mote That Is In Thy Brother’s Eye

The Ron Paul Revolution of transforming the Republican Party won’t end with Dr Paul.

Is that the “Revolution’s” goal now?

I thought the goal was to elect Ron Paul President of the United States, or at least get him the Republican nomination for President. But I guess if at first you don’t succeed, you can always move the goalposts.

This sounds like electioneering mission creep to me. In order to do A (get libertarian, anti-war policies) you decided to do B (get Ron Paul elected). To do B you’d have to do C and D (raise money and convince Republican primary/caucus voters). To do D you found out you’d have to do E (either recruit and register new Republicans or convince enough influentials within the Republican party and the media to get your message to the existing Republicans). But now you’ve found out that to do E effectively you have to do F (“transform the Republican Party” (!)). To do F, you’re planning to do G (run a bunch of Pauliticians in other, lower-level Republican primary races). But to do G, you’ve got to go back to C and D. And around and around we go.

Maybe it’s just time to cut your losses and look for other ways to do A without getting sucked even further into the quagmire of electoral politics.

I’m not sure that Ron Paul supporters ever believed Paul was the Messiah.

Maybe not. But at least one does think he’s “The Greatest American ever” Another thinks that he’s a light that shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended him not.

Re: Gene Callahan Joins the Smearbund

Matt Polzkill defends Ron Paul by comparing him to Lysander Spooner:

What IS wrong with you guys?!? Who do you support for president? Who that ran, was light years closer to Spooner?

Meanwhile, Lysander Spooner joins the Smearbund:

SIR, — Your inaugural address is probably as honest, sensible, and consistent a one as that of any president within the last fifty years, or, perhaps, as any since the foundation of the government. If, therefore, it is false, absurd, self-contradictory, and ridiculous, it is not (as I think) because you are personally less honest, sensible, or consistent than your predecessors, but because the government itself — according to your own description of it, and according to the practical administration of it for nearly a hundred years — is an utterly and palpably false, absurd, and criminal one. Such praises as you bestow upon it are, therefore, necessarily false, absurd, and ridiculous.

… You have not so much as the honest signature of a single human being, granting to you or your lawmakers any right of dominion whatever over him or his property.

You hold your place only by a title, which, on no just principle of law or reason, is worth a straw. And all who are associated with you in the government — whether they be called senators, representatives, judges, executive officers, or what not — all hold their places, directly or indirectly, only by the same worthless title. That title is nothing more nor less than votes given in secret (by secret ballot), by not more than one-fifth of the whole population. These votes were given in secret solely because those who gave them did not dare to make themselves personally responsible, either for their own acts, or the acts of their agents, the lawmakers, judges, etc.

These voters, having given their votes in secret (by secret ballot), have put it out of your power — and out of the power of all others associated with you in the government — to designate your principals individually. That is to say, you have no legal knowledge as to who voted for you, or who voted against you. And being unable to designate your principals individually, you have no right to say that you have any principals. And having no right to say that you have any principals, you are bound, on every just principle of law or reason, to confess that you are mere usurpers, making laws, and enforcing them, upon your own authority alone.

… But the falsehood and absurdity of your whole system of government do not result solely from the fact that it rests wholly upon votes given in secret, or by men who take care to avoid all personal responsibility for their own acts, or the acts of their agents. On the contrary, if every man, woman, and child in the United States had openly signed, sealed, and delivered to you and your associates, a written document, purporting to invest you with all the legislative, judicial, and executive powers that you now exercise, they would not thereby have given you the slightest legitimate authority. Such a contract, purporting to surrender into your hands all their natural rights of person and property, to be disposed of at your pleasure or discretion, would have been simply an absurd and void contract, giving you no real authority whatever.

… Every man has, by nature, the right to maintain justice for himself, and for all other persons, by the use of so much force as may be reasonably necessary for that purpose. But he can use the force only in accordance with his own judgment and conscience, and on his own personal responsibility, if, through ignorance or design, he commits any wrong to another.

But inasmuch as he cannot delegate, or impart, his own judgment or conscience to another, he cannot delegate his executive power or right to another.

The result is, that, in all judicial and executive proceedings, for the maintenance of justice, every man must act only in accordance with his own judgment and conscience, and on his own personal responsibility for any wrong he may commit; whether such wrong be committed through either ignorance or design.

No one could justify, or excuse, his wrong act, by saying that a power, or authority, to do it had been delegated to him, by any other men, however numerous.

For the reasons that have now been given, neither any legislative, judicial, nor executive powers ever were, or ever could have been, delegated to the United States by the constitution; no matter how honestly or innocently the people of that day may have believed, or attempted, the contrary.

… Such, Mr. Cleveland, is the real character of the government, of which you are the nominal head. Such are, and have been, its lawmakers. Such are, and have been, its judges. Such have been its executives. Such is its present executive. Have you anything to say for any of them?

Yours Frankly, LYSANDER SPOONER. BOSTON, MAY 15, 1886.

Re: Me, I’m voting for Hillary not because she’s a woman—but because I am.

The original “Goodbye to All That” is one of my favorite short essays in the world. So it’s a bit disappointing to see someone who once wrote this:

Goodbye to those simple-minded optimistic dreams of socialist equality all our good socialist brothers want us to believe. How merely liberal a politics that is! How much further we will have to go to create those profound changes that would give birth to a genderless society. Profound, Sister. Beyond what is male or female. Beyond standards we all adhere to now without daring to examine them as male-created, male-dominated, male-fucked-up, and in male self-interest. Beyond all known standards, especially those easily articulated revolutionary ones we all rhetorically invoke. Beyond—to a species with a new name, that would not dare define itself as Man.

… We are rising, powerful in our unclean bodies; bright glowing mad in our inferior brains; wild hair flying, wild eyes staring, wild voices keening; undaunted by blood we who hemorrhage every twenty-eight days; laughing at our own beauty we who have lost our sense of humor; mourning for all each precious one of us might have been in this one living time-place had she not been born a woman; stuffing fingers into our mouths to stop the screams of fear and hate and pity for men we have loved and love still; tears in our eyes and bitterness in our mouths for children we couldn’t have, or couldn’t not have, or didn’t want, or didn’t want yet, or wanted and had in this place and this time of horror. We are rising with a fury older and potentially greater than any force in history, and this time we will be free or no one will survive. Power to all the people or to none. All the way down, this time.

… is now drawing on her legacy and turning her talents to churn out endorsements for a triangulating pro-war corporate liberal candidate for President of the United States. I fear that the bottom of “all the way down” has become rather more shallow than it once was.

Re: The Argument From Baseball


Oy. I’m afraid you’ve hit on one of my linguistic pet peeves.

An argumentum ad hominem is the fallacy of evaluating an argument based on features of the person advancing it, rather than on its own merits.

If somebody were saying, “Ron Paul is a nasty racist. Therefore, his argument for the gold standard must be bogus,” then that would be an argumentum ad hominem.

On the other hand, if somebody says, “Ron Paul is a nasty racist. Therefore you shouldn’t vote for him for President,” then that’s not an argumentum ad hominem. The issue here isn’t an argument, but rather whether somebody personally ought to occupy a particular political position. Details about the history, personality, and character of a candidate for political office are certainly salient to whether or not you should vote for them, since presumably when you vote for someone you are (inter alia) relying on them to do at least some of what you want them to do while in office, and whether that trust is well-founded depends in part on what sort of person they are.

So while the allegations that have been made against Ron Paul are certainly personal attacks, they are not “ad hominem attacks.” Ad hominem arguments are never cogent. But personal attacks may be uncalled-for or called-for, as the case may be, depending on whether the allegations made in the course of the attack are well or ill-founded.

As far as the allegations that have been made against Ron Paul’s history and character go, I think they’re a pretty mixed bag, but certainly the video doesn’t respond to any of them. Plenty of cornfed military veterans and doctors from Texas have been nasty racists, too. If it’s supposed to be showing that he’s not an ogre, then it seems to me that it’s just evading the issues that have been raised in favor of talking about something else, and then capping it off with a note of adulation that borders on the surreal.

I will say that I have played the video several times nevertheless because I like the old-timey music in the background.

Paul for President as propaganda

Constant: I have never said, “if you want to know what a libertarian is, look at Ron Paul”. Do people do that? I guess if people do that, then that’s probably a mistake if they don’t agree with his whole platform. But do people really do that?

I don’t know whether anyone’s done that, but a lot of people have given money to the campaign, or put up signs and banners (“Ron Paul 2008,” “Ron Paul Revolution,” “Google Ron Paul,” etc.), or made personal endorsements of Ron Paul’s campaign, all of which they’ve justified on the grounds that Ron Paul’s campaign literature, debate answers, etc. promote libertarian ideals, and so getting more attention for his campaign will, in turn, educate more people about libertarianism and perhaps persuade more people to embrace it.

Presumably that’s only a good argument to the extent that Paul’s campaign actually is promoting libertarian ideals. If the money, for example, goes to produce nasty nativist-statist propaganda rather than propaganda that actually promotes libertarianism, then the money may be going towards promoting Ron Paul, but it’s not going towards promoting, or educating people about, libertarianism.

To Paul Or Not To Paul

Robert, there’s certainly no evidence of such a position in his platform. Here’s what he says. Boldface is mine.

  • Physically secure our borders and coastlines. We must do whatever it takes to control entry into our country before we undertake complicated immigration reform proposals.
  • Enforce visa rules. Immigration officials must track visa holders and deport anyone who overstays their visa or otherwise violates U.S. law. This is especially important when we recall that a number of 9/11 terrorists had expired visas.
  • No amnesty. Estimates suggest that 10 to 20 million people are in our country illegally. That’s a lot of people to reward for breaking our laws.
  • … Pass true immigration reform. The current system is incoherent and unfair. But current reform proposals would allow up to 60 million more immigrants into our country, according to the Heritage Foundation. This is insanity. Legal immigrants from all countries should face the same rules and waiting periods.

In other words, Ron Paul apparently advocates:

  1. … having the government aggressively and rigidly enforce admittedly incoherent and unfair immigration laws; and
  2. … having the government adopt a new system of immigration laws which will still enforce “rules and waiting periods” — which have to be designed in such a way that they will prevent any substantially increase the number of immigrants entering the country above current levels.

The position would still be statist even if it were what you’re describing, but it’s not. Paul has already ruled out any system of immigration liberal enough to substantially increase the number of immigrants legally entering the country as “insanity.”